Monday, November 24, 2014

The "Now and Not Yet" of the Kingdom and Adoption

Dani and her husband Adam recently started their adoption process which they describe as their "family expedition." To hear more about their trip, you can follow along at her blog, Wrangler Dani. But for now, I love her thoughts on the now and not yet tensions of the Kingdom, adoption, and our hearts.

We’ve finished all of the required Home Study paperwork, visits and education, now we’re just waiting for our social worker to finish the Home Study and approve us – at which point we’ll submit all of this info to various adoption agencies and see what happens. It’s exciting and tedious all at once, kind of like waiting in line for a jaw-dropping, scream-inducing roller-coaster on a hot midsummer day. The sweat may be trickling down your legs and you might be thinking wishfully about a cold Diet Coke and the Amusement Park Couple in front of you might be getting to know each other’s tonsils, but eventually you’ll get to buckle in and woosh away – and that first heart-stopping plunge will be worth any wait.

Adoption involves a lot of waiting, and in the midst of the waiting are many questions with no answers. We don’t have set timelines, we don’t know what our child will look like, we don’t even know what state he or she will be from. This can lead to some uncomfortable thoughts, as you can imagine. We’ve started to acknowledge that we have an itch in our souls, a calling that can’t be ignored, and yet scratching that itch and answering that call are an unknowable length of time away – seemingly an endless road.

I’m reminded of the Christian concept of Kingdom Theology, or "now and not yet." This is the idea that Jesus came, brought the Kingdom of God to Earth and redeemed humanity, and yet the Kingdom of God in its fullness is not yet here. We still live in hard places, in death and pain and struggle, even though Christ has come and hope has been found. We have to live in the Now, even as we know that more is coming, that a Second Coming of Christ will finish the Kingdom of God once and for all here on Earth. So how do we do this? How do we live in the Now without crying endlessly for the Not Yet? How can we be content while we still yearn for something better, brighter, more beautiful?

I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m wrestling with that tension more and more these days, as my own Now and Not Yet bump heads and collide in the night while getting drinks of water or whatever it is they do, waking me up and causing me to study our ceiling in futility.

Reality dictates that I must come to grips with Now and Not Yet, however, and here’s what I’ve found so far: Now and Not Yet are not nearly so scary, the tension between them not nearly so exhausting and awful, when we embrace them. When I acknowledge that I long to be a parent, I am embracing the Not Yet, allowing myself to feel disappointed that it has Not Yet come. But then I recall that today is a lovely day for working on our kitchen or writing an essay or taking a walk and holding hands with my husband, and so I embrace the Now. I’ll cry in frustration over the Not Yet and wish for it with everything I have, but I will not rob the Now of its joys after I’ve dried my eyes. I will know that I’m preparing for a new thing, an expedition of phenomenal length and breadth, and then do laundry or roast a chicken, because, well, contentment starts with a good dinner and clean clothes and we can’t be so dramatic all the time, now can we?

All too often I think we’re guilty of assuming that the frustrating tedium of Now means that Not Yet will never come. So we satisfy ourselves with alcohol or hobbies or busyness or food or snark or whatever we have available to us, stuffing those lousy excuses into our depleted souls, begging ourselves to hold it together. We try to pretend that we don’t ache for the Not Yet, and in our desperation we even miss the Now, trying so hard to reconcile the two that we enjoy neither.

I am going to live in the Now and Not Yet with open-hearted fullness. It is awfully painful sometimes to wish for something so far away, something that many people would say is less than a sure thing. But I would rather embrace both pain and joy fully than live in a stupor of discontent, seeing nothing but my own unmet desires or forgotten dreams before me.

I’m hopeful and imperfect, which I guess is appropriate to this discussion. But what do you think – can we agree to step boldly into impossible dreams with divine contentment, hoping for the best and yet relishing the mundane, seeing both as a gift?

I certainly hope so. I think we should try it together, because the world needs a few more clear-eyed optimists, aching for those dreams to come true and embracing each step along the way, small and impoverished though they may be.

“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

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